Business Plan Benefits
You can be sure that writing your business plan will be a time consuming process. However, undertaking this process is completely worthwhile. Your plan will help you gain focus, sync all of the supporting programs, develop short and long term strategies, show investors what you are doing and what you are asking, and support your vision with an evolving guide to evaluate your progress and plans for the future.
Familiarize Yourself with the Business Plan Table of Contents
Download a business plan template or review some of our sample plans to get a sense of what goes in a plan as well as the table of contents.
Start with What You Know
Begin by completing the business plan in outline form with what your currently know about the business. For now, keep it short and choppy. The goal for this phase is to leave with an understanding of what you know about the business and what you don’t know.
The industry analysis, market analysis and competitive analysis are three very important sections of the business plan. On the one hand, they help you assess the market opportunity, the size of the market, trends in the market, etc. What you learn here can have effects on the nuances of your product and service as well as your sales and marketing strategies for how you will position your product and service. Additionally, this research will allow you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and determine just how you will differentiate yourself from them.
Now that we have the supportive research to help us tackle the sections that you were originally unable to complete it is time for a brainstorming session. This looks different for each business plan and each entrepreneur as the gaps, red flags and concerns are never the same. In any case, take the time to dive into these incomplete sections.
The next step before you are ready to complete a first draft is to build out your financial projections. The financial plan breaks down the financial projections of the company in detail, compiling all revenues, expenses and profits into conventional accounting sheets (a balance sheet, cash flow statement and profit & loss statement). The goal of this section is to show how the strategy outlined in the plan is sound from a financial standpoint, presenting a realistic business and investment opportunity. This section also communicates the need for any outside investment and the uses of these funds.
Create a First Draft
Once you have complete the strategy development phase, you’ve ironed out all of the kinks, and you’ve created your financial model, you are ready to take your initial outline, your research and your newly minted strategies and complete a draft of the business plan.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Read through your business plan several times to ensure that you catch all of the grammatical and design mistakes. You will also want to read through your business plan to ensure that you have provided enough content and context in each section so that the reader is not left with any questions after reading a particular segment.